PlayStation ditches download codes at physical stores

Image Credit: GameStop (Image credit: GameStop)

It looks like PlayStation is ending the sale of game download codes in physical stores.

Long-time Twitter leaker Wario64 has released a memo sent by PlayStation to GameStop stores worldwide, stating that "Sony will no longer provide full game digital download codes to [any] retailers" from April 1.

While games with a physical disc release will still be offered in-store, digital only games will now only be available for sale through the PSN store itself, accessed directly via your PlayStation console. 

Stores will still, however, be able to sell general top-up codes for adding credit to PSN accounts.

The memo specifies that the move only affects Sony game releases, and has no effect on the policy of Microsoft or Nintendo, who have yet to make a similar announcement.

Long live the e-store

For as long as games have been sold digitally, physical stores like the UK's Game, and the US's Gamestop, Walmart and the like have offered in-store purchases of digital titles – effectively selling players a one-use code they can then use to download.

While the process of getting the game on your console in this way is a bit inefficient, some people still like to browse in a bricks-and-mortar store, and may be more likely to buy something they can physically hold – even if there isn't a real disc or cartridge inside it. That's before considering them as surprise gifting options.

While this move is likely not to prove too disruptive in the short-term – the memo, at least, suggests removing the titles should only take "one hour to complete" – but it's a further blow to physical stores, which are feeling more redundant the more our collective purchasing habits move online.

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Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.